Saddam was once given key to Detroit.
March 29, 2003 3:50 PM   Subscribe

For his kindness, Saddam was once given a key to the city of Detroit.

Apparently Saddam Hussein once donated money to Chaldean churches all over the world, including Chaldean Sacred Heart, in the motor city.

"He was very kind person, very generous, very cooperative with the West. Lately, what's happened, I don't know," (Rev. Jacob) Yasso, 70, said Wednesday. "Money and power changed the person."

Yasso was later invited to Iraq, where he presented Saddam Hussein with a key to the city, courtesy of then-Detroit mayor, Coleman Young.
posted by wondergirl (12 comments total)
Excessive line breaks also changed the person.
posted by xmutex at 4:24 PM on March 29, 2003

A key? Big deal! I know of this guy, see, and it turns out that he wasn't what everyone expected either, right, and he got a house, a jet, and a whole army in which to bully the rest of the world with.

A key. Indeed! :)
posted by LouReedsSon at 4:30 PM on March 29, 2003

See, this is what the Bush administration is so afraid of. If Saddam loans his key to Al Qaeda, they could be walking in and out of Detroit whenever they want.
posted by Galvatron at 4:59 PM on March 29, 2003

Detroit, SUV's and oil. Make the connections people!
posted by rough ashlar at 5:08 PM on March 29, 2003

Well I doubt Saddam could be any worse at running Detroit than the bozos in charge now [/sarcasm]
posted by gyc at 6:03 PM on March 29, 2003

Did we get the key back??? We wouldn't want that guy to unlock Detroit or anything.
posted by hama7 at 6:07 PM on March 29, 2003

"Saddam's bond with Detroit started in 1979, when the Rev. Jacob Yasso of Chaldean Sacred Heart congratulated Saddam on his presidency."

When Saddam took power in 1979, he distributed a video tape of the meeting where he called out the names of "traitors", one by one, who were taken out and executed.
Of course, if our state department had passed this information on to us and declared him to be the the force for evil that we know him to be, perhaps a naive clergyman wouldn't have been so easily duped.
But he was our murdering thug back in those days, along with Noriega.
posted by 2sheets at 6:15 PM on March 29, 2003

I had never heard of the Chalean Church before. Apparently it is one of the forms of Christianity practiced in Iraq. (3% of Iraqis are "Christian or Other" according to the CIA factbook)
posted by gwint at 6:34 PM on March 29, 2003

iraq's deputy prime minister is apparently a chaldean christian. of course, after we're through with iraq, it'll be militant islamists as far as the tigris is long, but why quibble.
posted by donkeyschlong at 7:21 PM on March 29, 2003

Coleman Young, of course, during his tenure as mayor was found to have 13 Krugerrands (illegal at the time) in a safe deposit box. And once his pet project, the Detroit People Mover, was underway, it was discovered that the chrome railings were all stamped "product of Rhodesia."
posted by Oriole Adams at 7:49 PM on March 29, 2003

I lived in Detroit for ten years, and from what I understand, this would have nothing to do with the car industry being based there, but rather with Detroit having the largest population of Arabs in the United States. Many of my classmates in high school were of Arabic descent.

[Mandatory "Let's Go Red Wings!" cry.]
posted by adampsyche at 8:17 PM on March 29, 2003

Chaldeans are essentially the same culture, in modern history, as the Assyrians. The big difference between them is that the Chaldean Church joined in communion with the Catholic Church (although some are Eastern Orthodox, and this article seems to refer to that group), while the Assyrians retained a sect known as Nestorianism. Chaldeans are centralized in Detroit, but a plurality of Assyrians call Chicago home. The Chaldean language is a relative of Aramaic, the language spoken by Jesus; they have been Christians since the very earliest days of the church. Nestorians seeking religious freedom were among the earliest Christians in Japan.

Although Christians are accepted in the secular government of Iraq -- Tariq Aziz is a Chaldean Catholic -- many suffered horrible persecution, [compare Indigenous Peoples Under the Rule of Islam] which is why so many have come to the US. A human shield who traveled to Iraq and came away disillusioned (not the one who called himself a naive fool: he was Jewish) on learning how the Saddam regime operates was an Assyrian Christian. In an interesting spin that connects the dots, he was one of 10,000 American missionaries recruited by Douglas MacArthur to rebuild Japan after World War II.

In general, Assyrians have been in the forefront of calling for a democratic Iraq.
posted by dhartung at 6:59 AM on March 30, 2003

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